The largest underground shopping center in Asia, COEX Mall, can now boast a library filled with over 50,000 titles to its name. Occupying a whopping 2800 square-meters in size, the brightly lit two-storey athenaeum has rightly been named Starfield Library after long being referred to as the Open Library.
Operated by a Shinsegae conglomerate, the library in Seoul opened on 31 May 2017, and hopes to attract more visitors to the mall whose numbers have been declining since 2014.
Books and magazines of all genres are available for bibliophiles who enjoy having paper at hand, and iPads for those who enjoy reading electronically. There are an estimated 200 seats available in the form of plush sofas, table seating and benches. Seating is key as the materials are for browsing in house only and there are no rentals as of yet.
Service kiosks and an information center can help you find the literature of your choice and while the majority of the books are in Korean, there is also English-language reading available. With popular amenities such as free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and plenty of power outlets, expect to find as many indulgent selfie-takers as you do serious readers. The plethora of events ranges from book talks and lectures to art exhibitions and more. The library is also receiving book donations and continuing to grow.
While travelers to Korea may not find the librarian-free space perfect for long hours of arduous study, just the image of the books upon books is a sight for sore eyes.
By Hahna Yoon